This story is available at:

Church agencies repeat call to let Timorese stay

Two organisations of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference on Friday renewed calls to Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock to grant residency to 1800 East Timorese asylum seekers who are facing deportation.

The renewed calls from Caritas Australia and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council come following last week's notification of 84 Timorese that their visa applications were unsuccessful and they had 28 days to leave Australia.

Bishop William Morris, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council said, "Three weeks ago Archbishop Carroll, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, wrote to the Hon. Philip Ruddock asking him to grant the expatriate East Timorese permanent residency. To date, there has been no reply.

"We call on the Minister to exercise his discretion and allow the East Timorese to stay," they said. "Many have lived in Australia for over seven years as their applications have been processed."

The agencies pointed out that during that time, they have integrated into the life of the Australian community, with children growing up. They came to the country for protection from horrors such as the 1991 Dili massacre at Santa Cruz cemetery.

"To return the East Timorese asylum seekers to a country that has neither the resources, economic and social infrastructure nor opportunities to support them raises serious questions about the operation of Australia's immigration policy," said Caritas Australia National Director Jack de Groot. "Returning Timorese will be entering one of the world's poorest countries, where 80% of children are estimated to have internal parasitical infection, where one in five children are chronically malnourished and where TB is a major problem."

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Ultimatum to East Timorese: why should you stay? (The Sun-Herald)
Timorese asylum claims blocked by secret freeze (Sydney Morning Herald)
Church lobbies Ruddock to keep East Timorese in Australia (30/10/02)
Grant Residency to East Timorese in Australia (ACLRI, 29/10/02)
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
Caritas Australia


18 Nov 2002